The Super Bowl this year is the old dynasty (Patriots) vs. the new potential dynasty (Seahawks). At least one of those games was memorable and an instant classic. The other one was on par with the Arizona-Carolina wild card game.
So with this in mind, I present my analysis from the NFC Championship Game. You know, the one with a watchable ending.
Seattle 28, Green Bay 22
It was a miracle Seattle won this game. Hell, it was a miracle they were only down 16 points after the first half, in which Russell Wilson only had 2 completions for 12 yards (one of which went -2 yards) and 3 interceptions intended for WR Jermaine Kearse. In the end, all 4 of his picks were throws intended for Kearse.
After the Packers opening drive ended on a terrific end zone interception by Richard Sherman intended for Davante Adams, the Seahawks gave the momentum back on a tipped pick off the hands of Kearse. Green Bay ended up driving to the 1-yard line, yet on 4th and 1 at the 1-yard line, head coach Mike McCarthy elected to kick a field goal. And when Doug Baldwin, who had a bad performance, fumbled the kick return back to Green Bay, the same thing happened.
The Packers kicked a field goal from the 1-yard line on 2 consecutive drives. Now some may argue that it’s better to take the points because not doing so would give Seattle more momentum. I counter with this; they’re on the 1-yard line. I don’t care how injured Aaron Rodgers was. You’re telling me McCarthy couldn’t have decided to use Lacy on 4th and 1 or have Rodgers attempt a short TD pass? Green Bay got 6 points off 2 drives capitalized by excellent field position, which was capitalized by 2 big Seahawks turnovers.
That’s just bad coaching by Mike McCarthy. Inexcusable.
Yet it looked like it wouldn’t have mattered, as Rodgers threw a terrific touchdown strike on the move to Randall Cobb, who did an excellent job of gaining separation, as Green Bay took a 2 possession lead. After getting a 3 and out, Green Bay got the ball back, yet only managed to get a field goal.
The Packers could’ve easily been up 28-0 on their first 5 drives. The Seahawks defense didn’t even perform that well for the entire first half; it was more of the Packers offense screwing shit up, either with drops, overthrows or underthrows. All of this despite winning the turnover battle and great protection from the offensive line.
3 of Green Bay’s drives in the first half ended from a Mason Crosby field goal kick on 4th and 1. All 3 were in enemy territory I should add. McCarthy apparently didn’t regret these moves after the game, but they cost the team in the long run.
After Wilson threw another pick to HaHa Clinton-Dix (please don’t laugh) on an awful throw, and Rodgers threw a horrible interception to Byron Maxwell, it appeared that the Seahawks offense finally caught some steam, with Marshawn Lynch going Beast Mode and Wilson completing his first pass of the day, a nice pass to Ricardo Lockette for 14 yards. Then the 2-minute warning came and Wilson threw an end zone pick to Sam Shields.
Green Bay failed to capitalize after Rodgers overthrew Cobb on 3rd and 10, and the half ended on a pathetic attempt at a drive by Seattle’s offense.
It was the worst first half I’ve ever seen from Wilson, and was quite on its way to the infamous Jake Delhomme 6-turnover game against the Cardinals in the 2008 playoffs. The entire Seattle team played atrociously, and was blessed to only be down by 2 possessions heading into the 2nd half.
After both teams punted to each other on their opening drives, Pete Carroll made an absolutely brilliant playcall by running a fake field goal, and having punter Jon Ryan throw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Clint Gresham. It was vintage Big Balls Pete, but I didn’t like that Carroll rejected going for 2 points. Even if the conversion wasn’t good, SEA would still be down 2 possessions, the same if they kicked a field goal. A successful 2-point conversion would’ve made it a 1-possession game at 16-8.
After that, the quarter ended in punts from both teams. Crosby, who had an excellent game (quite possibly killing his own narrative), kicked a 48-yard field goal to extend Green Bay’s lead to 19-7. Punts from both teams came after, and I disliked that Seattle punted down 2 scores with 7:01 left.
Wilson threw his 4th interception on a play that should’ve been caught by Kearse, but instead was caught by safety Morgan Burnett. With 5:04 left to play, down 12, one would have thought this would be it for Seattle’s chances at a dynasty. Yet somehow, Seattle forced Green Bay to a 3rd and out, and got the ball back. The offense finally woke up, as Wilson and Lynch did their parts, culminating in a Wilson rush touchdown.
Miraculously, the Seahawks Chris Matthews recovered the onside kick, after Brandon Bostick had the ball slip away from his hands. It took 4 plays for Seattle to take the lead. Wilson scrambled for 15 yards and converted a first down,. While Marshawn Lynch once again set off a Beast Quake with a 24-yard touchdown run. Wilson then converted a prayer of a 2-point conversion to Luke Willson. Seattle had done the impossible, coming back from 16 points to take a 3-point lead.
All eyes were on Aaron Rodgers. With the limited mobility from a calf injury forcing him to change his game to a more Philip Rivers-esque style with quicker passes, Rodgers responded perfectly, with 2 straight completions of 15 yards, and a 12-yard scramble to start the drive. This helped set up Crosby, who hit a clutch 48-yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
It was redemption time. Wilson ended the game on 2 beautiful deep ball passes, both 35-yard passes. The first to Baldwin came on 3rd and 7, and immediately after, threw the NFC Championship clinching touchdown throw to (who else but) Jermaine Kearse. After the two failed to get any sort of connection, they redeemed themselves on a beautiful connection from Wilson to Kearse.
Seattle had done it. They overcame their mistakes (somehow) and escaped to the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson was crying, Kearse caught a touchdown, Michael Bennett was riding on a bike, and Richard Sherman wasn’t going batshit crazy at Erin Andrews. In other words; a real LSD experience was kicking in.
Dom Caper’s defense has taken a lot of heat, but looked solid for most of the game, and was an onside kick blunder away from winning it. All of this despite some conservative coaching from Mike McCarthy.
Marshawn Lynch was again phenomenal in the postseason. After Wilson carried the offense against Carolina, Lynch stepped up for 157 yards, a touchdown, 6.3 yards per carry, and a catch for 26 receiving yards. It’s Lynch’s 5th career 100+ yard postseason game in 9 career games, and now has 8 touchdowns in 9 postseason games. Pretty Terrell Davis-esque.
It was a bad overall game for Wilson (who almost had 3 HaHa interceptions), Baldwin, and Kearse, but all 3 redeemed themselves in the end. Wilson was able to overcome his own off day, and he might be the only active quarterback capable of doing that (Andrew Luck is another possibility).
Rodgers played a much better overall game than Wilson, but his 2 picks didn’t help matters, and he failed to connect with his receivers on a few occasions. That said, he led a terrific game-tying drive, and never got the ball back in overtime as he watched Seattle win from the sidelines. A rough end to an MVP-worthy season.
Seattle won because they fucked up less in the end than Green Bay, capitalized on the mistakes (finally), and the offense clicked together when it needed to most. Russell Wilson is a class act, and his ugly day ended brightly.
Even the ugliest of wins are worth talking about, and this one was a classic.